Why does my cat lick me and then bite me?
If you have one or more cats, you have surely experienced this situation: your cat is quietly licking you… and suddenly bites you!
Although we are experienced owners, it is not always easy to understand what our cat is trying to tell us, therefore, it is essential to delve into the feline universe and learn more about the body language of cats . Regularly reviewing articles related to and based on ethology (the science that studies animal behavior) can help us learn more about our beloved cats and interpret certain behaviors appropriately.
As you know, cats use their body to communicate with us and to express their emotions, so when your best friend licks you and after nibbling you should be very attentive to his body , in this way you will better understand why he is manifesting this behavior .
Take a good look : Perhaps you have scared him while he was grooming you and because of that he has bitten you? Did your cat lick you while he purred and kept doing it while making soft bites? The way in which your cat carries out certain practices expresses much more than you imagine!
Licks and bites, what do they really mean?
There is no single way to interpret the licking of cats, nor about biting, much less if we talk about licking and biting together, therefore, we will try to explain in detail the purpose of these behaviors, both characteristic of this species:
Why do cats lick?
The tongue of cats is undoubtedly unique: it is made up of small keratin spines, which are especially useful when cleaning themselves, untangling their hair, removing dirt from their coat and drinking water.
Therefore, when a cat licks us, even more so if our cat licks our hair , it is carrying out a grooming behavior, as if we were just another cat. It is a very positive social behavior , which shows a good bond with the owner and the desire to make us feel more comfortable.
Even so, cats also lick as a sign of affection , since they have learned through associations that it is something that pleases us and that it also generates endless caresses and affection. On the other hand, excessive and incessant licking (even compulsive) can mean that something is wrong and that the well-being of our best friend is compromised, it is therefore an indication of stress and anxiety , in which case we recommend you review the 5 symptoms of stress in the most frequent cat.
Why do cats bite?
As with licking, a bite can also have several meanings, however, whoever has been bitten by a very angry or very scared cat knows that it has nothing to do with the bites that a playful cat can make, although these be somewhat painful. Truly angry or frightened cats display highly expressive , contracted, stiff, and bristling body language, accompanied by snorts, alert meows, and curved backs.
These types of bites (accompanied by painful scratches) have absolutely nothing to do with game bites , which are generally carried out when they get out of control, warning bites , so that we stop bothering or caressing them, bites such as displays of affection , which are usually more controlled and repetitive.
So why do cats lick and bite?
Some cats may bite after licking us as a warning signal for us to stop caressing them, others may do it as another sign of affection and a third group could do it as another sequence that involves grooming , that is, grooming.
When cats clean each other, they lick and nibble each other, to carry out thorough hygiene and brushing, so it would be completely normal for our partner to bite us during a «beauty» session. It is something totally normal and typical of its species, it is not a negative behavior.
When the bite hurts…
It may happen that our cat, by biting us, hurts us. What should we do then? The first thing will be to highlight that under no circumstances should we scold him , since our feline is carrying out a social behavior, although it is not entirely pleasant for us.
How should we act when a cat bites us? Ideally, after the bite we stop caressing it or paying attention to it . If we are constant and always follow the same pattern, over time, our cat will associate the bite with the end of the game or the petting session.
At the same time, it will be essential to use positive reinforcement and reinforce behaviors that we like, such as being calm, licking without biting or purring placidly. For this we can use a simple «very good» or bet on tasty prizes, such as a piece of cooked chicken.